Fringe Tree

by James Davis May 


Or Old Man’s Beard. 
That the names we give recall the thing
is what we want. And yet, both names are boring
when compared to the way it shimmers there
like a firework that somehow doesn’t fall,
or the way it will fall eventually
from itself, swirling its gauzy pollen
in the wind above the lawn
where the children next door run outside in late April,
swearing to their mother that it’s snowing.
And even after they know they’re wrong,
they squeal, insisting their mistake
is something to dance through, something
to repeat and repeat again—not hoping
to make it right, just enjoying what it is
and what it looks like the more they say so.


Originally from Pittsburgh, James Davis May now lives in the Georgia mountains. His poems have appeared in Five Points, the Missouri Review, New England Review, New Ohio Review, New Republic, Rattle, and The Southern Review. He is married to poet Chelsea Rathburn. This poem comes from his new book Unquiet Things and is reprinted with permission from LSU Press

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